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3 stars Canterbury band, Rocks and Pops!!

Clean, catchy "Pop/Rock", close to today's mainstream "new" Prog? bands. - In this Caravan's "Paradise Filters" , it is more by association than musical language, but then again "Canterbury" is a quiet "loose" Prog sub-genre.

Three very "radio oriented" songs open up the "paradise filters". It quiet starts the same way it finishes, more or less. I have to admit, that even though there are far better Rock groups, doing this kind of music, all of this album's songs are sure "winners", in their way to install this "franchise" in today's young (maybe some oldies?) target Prog audiences.

What really works for this effort, IMO, is the unpretentiousness in general, but also the masterful songwriting. Really, the fact of writing a "best hits" album, without them existing previously, is quiet novel.

What does not make me that happy about the whole thing, is the not that original musical language. Maybe Prog audiophiles who only listen to "prog" by rule, may rave over this album, but on the other hand, if you are a more "universal" audiophile, a lot of these songs will remind you (pleasantly) of some BIG names outside the court of Prog. Otherwise flawless.

***3.5 "very good PA stars album". Young people may think otherwise, but this is not "Prog" as such, but then again, not all Canterbury bands were!

Report this review (#1117010)
Posted Monday, January 20, 2014 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars This is what we are

A full ten years after their previous studio album, Caravan returned in 2013 with a new album. While not up to the high standards of the previous The Unauthorised Breakfast Item, Paradise Filter is a good album that is superior to the albums the group released during the 90's, 80's, and second half of the 70's (post-Cunning Stunts).

The line-up consists of Pye Hastings, Jan Schelhaas, Geoffrey Richardson, Jim Leverton, Doug Boyle, and Mark Walker. The distinctive Caravan sound remains intact and the band's trademarks are here. The sound is a bit more laid-back compared to The Unauthorised Breakfast Item, but not as "naked" and tame as The Battle Of Hastings. Though, the Folk influences from The Battle Of Hastings are again evident here.

The melodies are less strong than on the previous album and there are no standout tracks like the excellent Nowhere To Hide from that last album. Still, Paradise Filter is a pleasant listen from beginning to end and there are no embarrassments. Any Prog fan is bound to notice that almost all of the tracks here are around four and half minutes long, and the longest track is just over six minutes in length. Hence, no epic track like Nine Feet Underground or Dabsong Conshirto. The slightly longer tracks at the end of the album and not much more progressive than the shorter ones, and the album as a whole is not overly progressive really. Paradise Filter is nonetheless a worthy entry in the Caravan catalogue.

Report this review (#1132297)
Posted Sunday, February 16, 2014 | Review Permalink
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
2 stars There are some rare bands underway which still can hold up the spirit they were able to offer when starting the fire long ago. Unfortunately though, at least when it comes to this studio album, the current CARAVAN incarnation can't be counted amongst them. Okay, they are free to record what they like to play, no question. But this definitely is not what I was waiting for. When comparing with their earlier productions, 'Paradise Filter' appears far away from what I would call progressive rock music. Ten songs are given, blues and folk pop rock tinged, I can't hear any canterbury context anymore.

Simple straightforward compositions, not remotely close to suites like 'Nine Feet Underground' and 'For Richard' for instance. I'm missing any surprises, twists and turns, or improv parts featuring this typical intriguing guitar, keyboard and violin interaction from the earlier days. Only on Trust Me I'm A Doctor and the title track there is a slight reminiscence to the successful times to recognize. Although Pye Hastings' charming voice nearly has gone on some tunes you can hear that the musicianship is already there basically. But when it comes to the compositions they are playing it utterly safe here. Hence - with deep respect for the musicians and their legacy - this songs won't light my fire, sorry.

Report this review (#1146859)
Posted Wednesday, March 12, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars What I wrote about "The Battle of Hastings" applies here as well: There is much on this album that I like, just not too much prog, really. So, although I consider this to be quite a fine album (some songs stronger than others, of course) I can't give more than 3 stars here, progwise...

Musically, it's close to TBoH, although I'm missing older brother Jimmy Hastings' woodwinds that are missing here (for the first time?). Nevertheless, Geoffrey Richardson's viola fills some gaps in a nice way.

After some listening, it's probably a little weaker than TBoH, which might have the catchier melodies, and "The Unauthorized Breakfast Item", which might have a little more edge, but if you liked those, this one should definetely be worth a try.

Report this review (#1198437)
Posted Thursday, June 26, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars The British Canterbury band Caravan has been an important part of my prog discoveries the past two years and I have got anything fresh and lovely from almost everything they have done. Thirteen records have they done, many of them have got bad reviews from listeners here but I have liked even records as Back to front, The Album and Cunning Stunts. Their latest record from 2003 though didn't got my fully attention. In the very end of last year 2013 Caravan released their thirteenth studio album "Paradise filter" and it took some while before I could listen to it. I like the appearence of the cover. The Caravan sign is fresh and simple and the title has a computer style and the main motive is some strong coloured fields.

Four of the participating musicians have been in Caravan before. Most important of them are of course Pye Hastings, without whose voice and light attitude there hadn't been any Caravan. Also we have Geoffrey Richardson whose strings from time to time have given this music a lot of splendor and Jan Schelhaas who also played keyboards in the band in the middle of the seventies. Jim Leverton has played bass in the band since 1995. The drummer Mark Walker and guitarist Doug Boyle are new. Beside these musicians some are missed of course: Richard Coughlan, who died last year, the keyboard wizard Dave Sinclair and the charismatic Richard Sinclair is also missed, even if Caravan still is a reliable band.

Actually I was a bit suspicious when I put this record but instead the music made me satisfied. "Paradise filter" is not a fantastic record that Caravan should be remebered for, but it is a great collection of well performed songs. Some of the songs are very decent. I think I like "I'll be there for you" most(8/10). It's a happy song with an instrumental world which proudly bears the mantle of this prog band. "Trust me I am a doctor" is another lovely piece, well composed and sung and has great guitars too(8/10). Then we have "All this could be yours" which enters the record with melodical light and the catchy Pye and some English strings(8/10). "Fingers in the till" is also very sympathic with a smart melody and guitar(7/10) as well as "I'm on my way" which even if it's a bit bluesy has some old Caravan' feeling. The other compositions are reasonable but not interesting. My overall impression is that this is a good late Caravan record. It doesn't seem to have intentions to fight with old Caravan in originality but it doesn't need to do that. If I would judge records after how progressive they are this would have got a very low rating. Now I'm going to give it three strong stars. It is not a magic record, but it pleases me as a Caravan fan, and I am sure others will like it too. I think Caravan is worth your time!

Report this review (#1209067)
Posted Friday, July 11, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is Caravan's thirteenth studio album and is released ten years after their last one "The Unauthorised Breakfast Item". I find it hard to believe that it is ten years since that was released and it is something I still listen to quite regularly.

"The Unauthorised Breakfast Item" represented a return to form after some mediocre releases. So I was eagerly awaiting the release of "Paradise Filter". While it may not be as excellent as the previous album it is still very good and is an album that can stand proud amongst their discography.

It starts well with an uptempo track "All This Could be Yours" displaying some nice guitar riffs. There are a few of those quirky humourous songs such as "Trust Me I'm a Doctor"so typically of Caravan throughout their career.

Highlights on the album include I'll Be There for You" which features a banjo played by Geoffrey Richardson who manages to make the instrument sound good. "This Is What We Are" is another good one. The final track is the title track and is a nice soothing piece of music initially but livens up half way in with some fine guitar work followed by nice flute before it returns to the earlier mood. Another highlight is "Farewell My Old Friend" which is a fitting tribute to their former drummer Richard Coughlan who passed away last year

On their past albums there were often one or two tracks that I found annoying but not in this case. Overall it is a mellow album with fine musicianship, reflecting the maturity of the band members. Its a recording to chill out to, maybe on a summer's evening watching the sunset with a glass of fine vintage wine.

A definite 4 star recording!!!

Report this review (#1255662)
Posted Friday, August 22, 2014 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars It's been a sad time for Caravan and their followers with the loss of founding member Richard Coughlan in 2013, no doubt shaking the group up, but through the support of fans, by way of a successful online Pledge Music pre-order campaign, we now have a thirteenth Caravan album entitled `Paradise Filter'. Truthfully, as much as fans can have good-will towards this beloved act, the results delivered offer only a slight interest to progressive rock fans, but there's still traces of the Caravan humour, good nature and musical taste. It's not like anyone should have expected any more side-long epics or quirky arrangements, so a bulk of `Paradise Filter' is straightforward oldies pop/rock, AOR tracks and ballads, but admittedly there's still the instantly recognisably warm and dignified voice of Pye Hastings. While initially somewhat unexciting, stick with the album for a few tracks and the better material starts to emerge.

A bunch of pleasing, melodic but mostly forgettable pop/rockers takes up the first sections of the album. With a bit more energy and life, `All This Could Be Yours' could have been one of those peppy little openers that appeared on earlier albums like `Feelin' Alright' off `Better By Far'. It's got a fairly catchy chorus, and Geoffrey Richardson's viola shows up briefly throughout the final minute, but it's mixed very low when it really needed to stand out! Mid- tempo rocker `I'm On My Way' has an almost flat wheezy chorus, but some gently bluesy guitar licks save it. With a title like `Fingers In The Till', one of those trademark silly and sprightly Caravan poppy tracks was expected, but it's a rather melancholic and serious plodder, only getting more infectious in the chorus towards the end. There's nice synths but they're mixed so far to the back they may as well have been left off altogether.

`This Is What We Are' shows the first signs of life and promise, a catchy chorus and stand- out vocal break mixed with menacing heavy piano and surprisingly murky snarling hard- rock riffs. `Dead Man Walking' has nice dusty western movie style harmonica, with a welcome extended instrumental second half built around striking acoustic guitar and dramatic piano, Hammond organ bristling away in the background. `Farewell, My Old Friend' is a touching piano ballad in honour of the late Richard Coughlin sung with sincerity by Pye and the whole band playing with great heart and emotion, and `I'll Be There For You' is a lovely romantic and optimistic light banjo ballad with classy synth orchestration.

Thankfully we also eventually get some of those cheekier numbers starting with the slinky jazz rocker `Pain In The Arse'! The hostile and very bitter `relationship gone wrong' lyric is a little shocking, but it's worth it to hear Pye deliver the classic line `While I think of it, you look just like a horse!' - now that's the Caravan I like to hear! `Trust Me I'm A Doctor' has nice jangling guitars over sly lines like `I'm here to look after your health, and maybe I'll add to my wealth', or even more amusingly `I told him that my throat hurt and that I couldn't sing, he said "Don't worry, Pye, neither can I!" Speaking of classic Caravan, Geoffrey Richardson takes the lead vocal on the title track album closer, a dreamy ballad that deters into a 70's style Caravan instrumental, not unlike the middle of `The Dog, The Dog He's At It Again'. Trilling flute, soft acoustic guitars and energetic synths all weave beautifully together, and it's the absolute highlight of the album.

I do believe the band should really `play the prog card' like that final piece a little more if they decide to release further albums in the future, just throw in more zippy synth soloing, more instrumental passages, even if it's kind of clichéd and predictable, because that's the sound Caravan fans really want to hear. A majority of vocal based straight-forward rock pieces from any progressive band are going to wear a little thin, no matter how much goodwill you have towards them. But many nice moments pop up throughout, so `Paradise Filter' is not without its charms, and it's really hard not to be taken in by this good-hearted band. Therefore it's still a worthy release for the more forgiving of their fans, and Caravan and Canterbury Scene completists will likely want to add either the CD or vinyl LP to their collection right away.

Three stars.

Note - Well done to all the fans who pre-ordered the album and got their names printed in the CD booklet. Nice big letters, easily to read and clear, they must be stoked to be a part of Caravan history! Good on them!

Report this review (#1287971)
Posted Sunday, October 5, 2014 | Review Permalink
Errors & Omissions Team
4 stars Caravan was pretty much dead when it comes to Studio Albums. During 80's they had two, during 90's one and 00's one more (but they released a huge load of live albums during this time).

In 2013 the band announced a crowdfunding campaign for their new studio album Paradise Filter (2013) and I was happy to see that the campaign was 146% completed. I was happy because is nice to see a crowdfunsing campaign that is fair when it comes to the values and rewards and unlikely so many others that try to rip of their own fans.

Anyway, I wasn't very excited when I've heard some snippets of the album and I thought that the album would be a huge flop. That's why it took me over a year to actually listen to it.

Another huge thing on Caravan world in 2013 was that original drummer of the band Richard Coughlan passed away in December of that year and had been in poor health for quite some years. Paradise Filter (2013) is the only album of Caravan that doesn't have Richard playing his unique style...

Well, it turned out that Paradise Filter (2013) is a damn solid album that can stand well against many of the classic works of the band. They have what they always had, a feet in the Pop a feet in the Prog. I've seen many people saying that the band went Pop on this album.... I think they really don't know what Caravan was really about as they were always a big Pop act all the way. Weird because some many really Pop bands are labeled as Prog... anyway.

Paradise Filter (2013) is a bit less than 50 minutes long and is a solid 4 stars and although is no masterpiece you can hear it at any given time. Tracks like the opening 'All This Could Be Yours', 'Fingers In The Till', 'Pain In The Arse' and the title track that closes the album show they still have gas to go.

I recommend!

Report this review (#1366385)
Posted Tuesday, February 10, 2015 | Review Permalink

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